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Chapter 16

The week delivered one trial after another. By Thursday afternoon I felt like I’d been hit over the head with several midterm-shaped mallets.

Finske’s finance exam read like Greek. Somehow the things Jane and I had studied just didn’t seem to match up with the questions on the test.

I’d tried proving the Modigliani–Miller Theorem four different ways, and as the clock ran down I had a sickening feeling none of them were right.

To cap it all off, my mom called for her monthly check-in. I gave her the light version. Easy on the details but without resorting to excuses. Both Mom and I hated excuses. It was the one thing we had in common besides DNA.

“What happened, Alexis? Didn’t you study?”

“Of course I did, Mom.”

“Senior year is likely a big step up. Passing advanced courses won’t be a walk in the park. Why don’t you get a tutor until you have a better handle on the material.” I gritted my teeth. I was in the top ten percent of my class and not about to slide. Somehow after all these years it still stung that she thought I wasn’t smart enough or working hard enough.

“I was calling to say we can get you an interview for a summer internship with Alicia’s company. If you keep your grades up.”

“Sure, Mom.” Protesting never worked. Eventually she’d realize I wasn’t onboard and give up.

“Oh and one other thing. I know Grant said we’d be able to make it out to New York this Christmas to visit you while you’re there, but Chelsea is doing a pageant in LA. Why don’t you just stay in California for break?”

The fact that I was there to work and take the biggest meeting of my life had evidently made no impression on her.

It felt like she’d have rather I left along with my dad instead of ending up dumped along with her. And no matter what I did, I couldn’t be as perfect as Chelsea.

“I can’t. But it’s fine, Mom. You guys will have a great time at home. Tell Chelsea good luck.” I hung up.

It had been the worst day in recent memory. The last thing I felt like doing was catching up on work, but that’s exactly what I’d been forcing myself to do at home for six hours now. I knew I should sleep, but it wasn’t a remote possibility.

I needed a friend and Ava wouldn’t cut it. She was far too fond of reminding me how narrow-minded my mom was for failing to see the opportunities in Travesty. A mom-bashing wasn’t in the cards for tonight.

Kickboxing had helped me let off some frustration about Dylan, but I hadn’t talked to him alone since. He’d driven us to school Monday and again this morning, but I’d been as silent as possible without arousing Ava’s suspicions. He seemed to know there was something off and, so far, hadn’t tried to take a run at it.

But now I needed to see him. I was pissed for the way he’d laid it on the table, but more importantly I missed his thoughtful eyes and the way he could get me to relax.

Before my brain could catch up with my fingers, I sent off a text.

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